The B-17 Flying Fortress was by far the most popular and most successful bomber built and flown during WWII. It was a four engine heavy bomber aircraft. Manufactured by Boeing, it initially went into service in 1937 and well over 12,000 of them were built but today only a few of them are in flying condition.
The B-17 Flying Fortress was used primarily as a daylight bomber during WWII over German military targets. It was particularly known for its ability to withstand severe battle damage and yet still be able to bring its crew back to the home base safe. There are numerous counts and photos of badly damaged B-17s with wing or control surface sections missing that yet their crews were able to fly them back home hundreds of miles and land them safely sparing their lives. The "Memphis Belle" was one of those B-17s that was able to fly 25 missions successfully despite several close calls and was returned back to the States to give tours to boost war morale. A famous motion picture movie was made in the 1980s depicting the life of the "Memphis Belle" and its crew.
Although lacking the performance, range and bomb loading ability of the B-24 Liberator the B-17 Flying Fortress was the most used bomber during WWII dropping over one third of all bombs over Germany.
They were several variants of the B-17 Flying Fortress built in large numbers. B-17E, B-17F, B-17G (most produced model), and several other variants in smaller quantities.
B-17 Flying Fortress Specs:
* Crew: 10 (Pilot, Co-Pilot, Engineer, Bombardier, Radioman, 5 Gunners)
* Length: 74 ft 4 in / 22.66 m
* Wingspan: 103 ft 9 in / 31.62 m
* Height: 19 ft 1 in / 5.82 m
* Wing area: 1,420 sq ft / 131.92 sq m
* Empty weight: 36,135 lb / 16,391 kg
* Loaded weight: 54,000 lb / 24,495 kg
* Max takeoff weight: 65,500 lb / 29710 kg
* Engine: Four turbosupercharged Wright R-1820-97 "Cyclone" radial engines
* Horsepower: 1,200 hp each
* Maximum speed: 287 mph / 249 knots / 462 km/h
* Cruise speed: 182 mph / 158 knots / 293 km/h
* Range: 1,738 nm / 2,000 mi / 3,219 km w/ bombload
* Service ceiling: 35,600 ft / 10,850 m
* Rate of climb: 900 ft/min / 4.6 m/s
* Guns: 13 of M2 Browning .50 caliber / 12.7 mm machine guns
* Bombs: up to maximum of 17,417 lb / 7900 kg of bombs could be carried but combined with machine guns and their ammunition the mostly carried 8,000 lb /3,600 kg of bombs for short missions and 4,500 lb / 2,000 kg for long missions